One of ObamaCare's biggest shortcomings is its failure to take into account how a dramatic increase in the demand of health care while the supply of health care remains constant in the short term, will affect the quality and quantity of care available. In the long term, as demand continues to rise, supply of doctors is likely to fall because the enormous costs of training to become a doctor (not to mention the costs of medical malpractice insurance) outweigh the benefits of working for a progressively state run system in which a panel of so-called experts decides if and how much a doctor will be reimbursed for services rendered.
Becoming a doctor in the age of ObamaCare could not be less attractive. But this isn't an indictment of ObamaCare, explain Drs. Bach and Kocher in the pages of today's New York Times. Rather, it's occasion to start thinking about making medical school free.
...[T]he American Academy of Family Physicians has estimated a shortfall of 40,000 primary care doctors by 2020. Given the years it takes to train a doctor, we need to start now.
Making medical school free would relieve doctors of the burden of student debt and gradually shift the work force away from specialties and toward primary care. It would also attract college graduates who are discouraged from going to medical school by the costly tuition.
We estimate that we can make medical school free for roughly $2.5 billion per year — about one-thousandth of what we spend on health care in the United States each year. What’s more, we can offset most if not all of the cost of medical school without the government’s help by charging doctors for specialty training.
Although Drs. Bach and Kocher correctly identify America's looming deficit of physicians, their solution -- expand government involvement in order to solve the problems caused by government in the first place -- seems wrongheaded and naive. Furthermore, to assume that a talented pool of prospective physicians will willingly rush into a system whereby they'll still have to train for the better part of a decade only to become subject to the whims of Uncle Sam's panel of experts, is to assume that doctors are cut from a different cloth than are other professionals, and that they are less rational and less responsive to incentives.